The Lifeguard by Deborah Blumenthal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received this book for review via Net Galley and would like to thank them for the opportunity to read it.
Sirena's life it falling apart, at least she thinks so. Her parents are getting divorced and to her this is worse than death. She is shipped off to Rhode Island for the summer to spend time with her aunt while her parents get things settled in Texas. Rhode Island turns out to be a very different world than the one Sirena knows. There she meets new people, learns of of their shamic skills, realizes ghosts really do exist and falls hard for Pilot, the local lifeguard.
I loved the way the writer was able to pull me into this book. At first, I wasn't sure about the long paragraphs of narrative, but for this book they actually worked. I was also skeptical of the first person narrative, but for the most part it was appropriate for this book. This book flowed like it was Sirena's journal, relating her summer to us and all the things she learns. She even mentions in the book about how she once thought of starting a diary but never did it.
I liked the fact that Sirena was not the whiny teenager we often see in love stories such as this. Did she have her jealous moments? Of course she did, it wouldn't be young adult romance without it. But it wasn't overwhelming and it didn't seem to consume every thought she put out to the audience of the book. And she was brave, which surprised me because I didn't think she had it in her at first. She stood up to her fears, she faced her realities, she looked life straight in the face and learned what it was to live. We learn a lot from her letters to her best friend Marissa, who is spending the summer at camp.
Pilot is very mysterious. He keeps much to himself and doesn't let Sirena in. Their moments together are often quiet. He's this perfect "Godlike" boy who saves people not only with his lifeguarding skills, but with his healing powers. He is almost angelic. He has "powers" that allow him to feel what people are feeling, hear when people are in distress and help people out of dangerous situations.
Sirena's Aunt Ellie leaves Sirena alone for the most part. She gives her space so her wounds can heal and she can realize that life it worth living. That her life is worth something outside of her family being only a cookie cutter crew. And her friend, Mark, is very supportive of Sirena, as well, although we don't see much of him in the book.
Antonio is an 80 year old painter who spends his time capturing every emotion, every nuance his painted scenery has, whether that is a still life or a person. He listens to Sirena, when she just needs an ear. And he points things out to her in an unobtrusive way so she can come to her own conclusions about her life.
All in all I really enjoyed this book. I read it in less than 24 hours. Blumenthal really has a way with words. Her writing flows and is lyrical, her descriptive abilities poetic. I didn't really want to put the book down. I loved that the end really had no wind up, no final conclusion as if it might have a sequel but still does so well as a stand alone.
I give this book 3.5/5 stars.
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